Emergence and Sustainment of Humankind on Earth: The Categorical Imperative

  • Ulrich LüttgeEmail author
  • Fabio Rubio Scarano


This essay argues that the “sustainment” of humankind on Earth will require short-term ruptural transformation of rooted individual and societal attitudes and ethics into a new categorical imperative. We establish a difference between “sustainment” of humankind and “sustainability”. Sustainment is the process of dynamic state of maintenance of conditions without destruction of prerequisite requirements for well and healthy performance of organisms and systems of life emergent on Earth (i.e. ecological stability). Sustainability is as a moral value related to intergenerational justice, and therefore a societal goal or utopia, backed up by specific science and policy tools. To address sustainment of humankind on Earth, we first provide a brief history on origins and extinction processes, then we discuss existing problems and challenges for sustainment, and we finally provide a reflection on plausible futures with humankind sustained. We aimed to balance out futures perspectives such as those related to the Gaia hypothesis, to the evolution of consciousness, and to trans-humanism, as constrained by the short time left for humankind to halt or reverse the trajectory of planetary degradation it imposed on the planet.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Darmstadt University of TechnologyDarmstadtGermany
  2. 2.Universidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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